Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Equality Summit pt 3: On the Black Hand Side
After the 'No on 8' literally deflected bullets in the first meeting, we broke off in our work groups. They announced to everyone to go to a group that is your weakness or where you need the most training. Since the big theme was the lack of effort towards the Black communities, folks showed up at the African American discussion room, and by folks I mean white folks.
It didn't matter to me or some others, but there were people who wasn't so happy about that. There were a few Black people who wanted time to discuss our issues and asked the non-Blacks to leave. We thought that notion wasn't an option and said everyone was welcomed to the table. After 15 minutes of this mess, we pushed for everyone to stay, however the ones who opposed that idea left the room.
I was very upset about this because it sent an horrible message about the Black involvement in LGBT issues. I understand we need a space, but this was an opportunity to discuss our issues and work together. The reason why there's misunderstandings is because we don't talk to each other. This spat only caused a divide, but no worries, I held it down.
I became the 'speaker on Black issues' (jk). I addressed Blacks in the Gay media, the lack of visibility of LGBT people of color and ways to improved this. We also talk about how the protest could've been in South Central and East LA. If people felt betrayed by Blacks and Latinos, then they should have came on down to those neighborhoods and told them. Protesting in WeHo was a safe choice, protesting on Crenshaw and East L.A. would have be more effective (I think).
Afterwards, we had our African-American discussion time, but we realized there is a huge difference in where we stand. Some people are not comfortable talking openly about Black problems. There's still some trust issues with non-Blacks stemming from the past. The other side (me included) wanted explore that Jim Crow/trust/L.A. riots muck that's still holding folks back, but we only had 30 minutes.
It was clear our (Black) community needs time to deal with our stuff. We are continuing that conversation at a later date. Also we hope to connect with other LGBT groups of color as well.
In all, I enjoyed the conflict, drama, and the discussions. I met some wonderful folks during the 'thunderdome' and will stay in touch. Hopefully, we can come together and continue the healing process. I didn't grow up here, so my perception of cross-culture outreach is different than the ones who grew up in the heart of L.A.
But this is the time for a movement and change. We as a LGBT community of color need to ensure our place at the table. If we're going to win gay equality, all of us need to feel a part of the team. But it will take some time and I'm committed in making that happen.